“I wanted us to sound less like a stiff, white indie-rock band and more in the groove.” That’s Andrew Connor, frontman of Ghosty, talking about his band’s self-titled release, Ghosty (2013), out now on High Dive Records. He adds, “I wanted it to have the kinds of sounds you hear on an old soul record.”
That’s a bit of a departure from previous Ghosty records. The group has previously worked with Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Monsters of Folk) and Trent Bell (Flaming Lips, Chemical Brothers) chiseling out an elegant kind of Midwestern indie rock, equal parts Beach Boys and Pavement. It was a winning sound: Grow Up Or Sleep In and Answers drew notice from NPR and The New York Times. But with Ghosty, the group has downsized to a trio, with Mike Nolte (who also runs sound for Starfucker’s live shows) on bass and Bill Belzer (a touring drummer for Uncle Tupelo back in the day) behind the kit. Accordingly, Ghosty has more of a sense of urgency, albeit without sacrificing any of the beauty and musical intricacy of Connor’s songwriting.
Booker T. records and other Stax staples were a direct inspiration. Connor says he’s also been energized by Locked Down, the 2012 Dr. John album produced by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. “I like the idea of us making indie rock through the filter of those classic analog sounds,” he says. “Those records are all about the musicianship and these huge sounds they get on those analog recordings. It takes my breath away.” The lush, motoring bass line on “Take” bears out Connor’s desire for a groove – it’s unlike anything you hear on indie-rock records today. The rest of Ghosty follows suit: It’s a steady procession of melodic, concise, harmony-rich, complex pop music.
Ghosty was released on High Dive Records, a new label focused on the Kansas City and Lawrence scenes. “I wanted to put together a label with some of the best bands in the area, and Ghosty was an obvious choice,” says Jeff McCoy, founder of High Dive. “They’re one of those rare bands that’s both really respected by all the musicians in the area and has really enthusiastic fans. I’m thrilled a band like Ghosty would work with us.”